Despite still not being able to formally join Gilas Pilipinas’ camp for the 2023 FIBA World Cup due to injury, Kai Sotto reiterated his commitment to suiting up for the national team once he gets healthy.
“I’m always committed to play for the national team kahit anong mangyari,” the Filipino center said.
“It’s very important [to suit up for Gilas]. For me, basketball-wise, I’m at my happiest kapag naglalaro ako for my national team dahil proven na ‘yan dahil 15 pa lang ako, naglalaro na ako,” Sotto said in an interview with PlayitRight TV.
“Sobrang fulfilling ng pakiramdam, kaya every time na may chance ako to put out that jersey, sobrang nagiging excited ako. Ngayong darating na ‘yung World Cup, sobrang mixed emotions. Sobrang excited, I can’t wait,” he added.
The 7-foot-3 center of the Hiroshima Dragonflies missed the squad’s trip to China for a short pocket tournament, but Sotto bared that at the current stage of his recovery, he thinks he can rejoin the team just in time for their tune-up games against Montenegro and Mexico a few days before the World Cup starts.
“I think by those two games, I think I’ll be ready, I think I’ll be good na. These past two weeks of rehab, I’m slowly getting better, so I think by that time I think I’ll be good,” he said.
Sotto is aware of the comments made by head coach Chot Reyes regarding his absence from the team’s build-up to the World Cup, but the center is focusing on the things that he can control.
“For me, I just got to focus on what I can control and that’s myself. ‘Di naman lahat ng tao alam ‘yung nangyayari. I don’t see any problem naman, I don’t see what’s the issue. I just need to be 100 percent ready physically and mentally,” Sotto said.
He then also shared some developments in his recovery from the back injury that he sustained during his NBA Summer League stint with the Orlando Magic.
“I think the rehab is going well. Slowly, mas umo-okay na ‘rin yung likod ko compared nung nasa US pa ‘ko,” he said.
“It’s going better now. I’m supposed to do 12 sessions, nasa six na ako. Hopefully, next week maka-step on court na ako to do some drills,” he added.
Gilas will face Montenegro on August 20, and Mexico on August 21, just four days before they open their World Cup campaign when they go head-to-head against the Dominican Republic on August 25 at the Philippine Arena. (ABS-CBN News)